Public Laws | Pending Legislation
Elder Justice Act
As Chair of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, former Senator John B. Breaux (D-LA) had a strong interest in the issue of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation and held several hearings on the topic of elder abuse.
In June 2002, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a report entitled “Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America.” The National Institute on Aging (NIA) had requested that NAS conduct a review of the available information on elder abuse and develop recommendations for the establishment of a research agenda.
During the 107th Congress, Senator Breaux, acting in coordination with Senators Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT) and Blanche L. Lincoln (D-AR), introduced S. 2933, the Elder Justice Act. Various provisions in the bill addressed the recommendations of the 2002 NAS report.
In February 2003, Senators Breaux, Hatch, and Lincoln reintroduced the legislation in the 108th Congress as S. 333. In November 2005, Senators Hatch and Lincoln reintroduced the bill in the 109th Congress as S. 2010.
Provisions of the Legislation/Impact on NIH
Most of the provisions in S. 2010 focused on programs that are already under the purview of the Administration on Aging and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). During committee markup, the bill was amended with a Committee substitute bill. The following provisions would have been of interest to the National Institutes of Health:
- Research Protections: The bill would have required the Director of NIA to establish guidelines to assist researchers working in the area of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation with issues relating to human subject protections.
- Elder Justice Coordinating Council: The legislation would have required the establishment of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council, which would have comprised representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), DOJ, and other relevant Federal agencies; States; communities; and nonprofit groups. A representative from NIA would have been required to participate in the Council. The Council would have been required to meet at least twice a year and make recommendations for the coordination of activities relating to elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, and other crimes against elders to DHHS, DOJ, and other relevant Federal, State, local, and private agencies and entities.
- Advisory Board on Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation: An Advisory Board on Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation would have been established and would have comprised members of the general public who have expertise in the area of elder justice. The Board would have made recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Attorney General, the Elder Justice Coordinating Council, and appropriate congressional committees.
Status and Outlook
S. 2010 was introduced by Senators Hatch and Lincoln on November 15, 2005, and was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. The bill, as amended by the Committee, was reported out favorably by the Committee on August 3, 2006, by a vote of 20 to 0. No further action occurred on this legislation during the 109th Congress.